Background The rodent model is commonly used to study facial nerve injury. Because of the exceptional regenerative capacity of the rodent facial nerve, it is essential to consider the timing when studying facial nerve regeneration and functional recovery. Short-term functional recovery data following transection and repair of the facial nerve has been documented by our laboratory. However, because of the limitations of the head fixation device, there is a lack of long-term data following facial nerve injury. The objective of this study was to elucidate the long-term time course and functional deficit following facial nerve transection and repair in a rodent model. Methods Adult rats were divided into group 1 (controls) and group 2 (experimental). Group 1 animals underwent head fixation, followed by a facial nerve injury, and functional testing was performed from day 7 to day 70. Group 2 animals underwent facial nerve injury, followed by delayed head fixation, and then underwent functional testing from months 6 to 8. Results There was no statistical difference between the average whisking amplitudes in group 1 and group 2 animals. Conclusion Functional whisking recovery 6 months after facial nerve injury is comparable to recovery within 1 to 4 months of transection and repair, thus the ideal window for evaluating facial nerve recovery falls within the 4 months after injury.
- facial nerve transection and repair
- facial paralysis